LG Twin Towers is located in Yeouido-dong, Yeongdeungpo-gu, Seoul. We were surprised at the grandeur and solemnity of the 134 meter edifice. Although there were many procedures required in order to enter the building, we were finally given visitor passes and taken to the vice-president’s office on the 31st floor via the VIP elevator. We started our interview with him by admiring the view from the 31st floor.
Interview with Executive Vice President Global Marketing Officer of LG Electronics, Ki Wan Kim
Q) Can you explain how you reached this status?
A) When I was a university student in the Department of Commerce and Trade at Yeungnam University, I wanted to be in charge of exportation and importation at a trading firm such as LG. I started out in the export department of LG. From there, I worked in Germany, Austria, and Hungary for 8 years. After working abroad, I came back to Korea. Since then, I became the Executive Vice President Global Marketing Officer of LG Electronics in 2011. During that time I came to realize that considering the distant future is not good and living in the moment is the most important thing.
Q) Have you ever experienced any discrimination because you attended university in Daegu?
A) The major companies hardly consider things like educational background because they evaluate people based on ability. The college you attended is more important if you are considering a career in the military or as a public official.
Q)What was the attraction of LG Electronics compared to other companies?
A) At LG Electronics, the center of all the company’s values is based on people. The basic management ideology of our company is to improve the quality of life of people and respect everything related to business management. Therefore, our enterprise is very humane and never allows illegality, foul behavior, or moral laxity. In short, our enterprise can develop infinitely if you work hard and have ability.
Q) What are some tips for those who want to get hired at LG Electronics?
A) First, having a specific skill set and good grades are needed. However, these days we don’t give as much consideration to where applicants go to university because our new CEO (Chief Executive Officer), who was appointed last year, was only a high school graduate. Having a spirit that allows you to follow and act on your instincts and not be overly affected by the things that are happening around you is important. For example, most people think the theme of “The Life of Sim Cheong” is about filial piety. However, after I read the original text of The Life of Sim Cheong, I thought the theme was “excessive self-interest will ultimately bring misfortune.” If you place too much emphasis on the thing you want to achieve, it usually comes to no good. However, a situation you find yourself in can go into orbit if you act simply and reasonably. Finally, I want to deliver a message that you should always confront the problems you are facing.
Q) What kind of work do you do as a vice-president of LG Electronics?
A) First, LG Electronics is divided into four companies: mobile phones, refrigerators & washing machines, air conditioners, and TVs. We have many branches in over 122 countries. I handle 80% of the total international sales from branches and businesses related to advertising models such as Girl’s Generation and Kim Tae Hee. Moreover, I am always busy with business trips and video conferences because I handle all the overseas sales.
Q) What areas do you usually evaluate when you face people as the CEO?
A) First, I think ownership is important. Mothers have very excellent ideas about their children even though they haven’t studied childcare. It’s because mothers love their own children the most. In other words, I highly evaluate people who think of LG Electronics like a mother who loves their own child. Second, a positive mind and posture are important. People who think about everything positively will succeed someday. Lastly, I think people who don’t keep making excuses are great. When I was an interviewer, I didn’t choose people who said “because” too much because those kind of people have too many excuses. For example, I wouldn’t hire a person who says “I was late because of the rain” but I would hire the person who says “In spite of the rain, I arrived on time.” Finally, I gravitate toward people who have a strong sense of ownership, a positive mind and do not make excuses.
Q) Is there any person you admire?
A) I admire former presidents Park Chung Hee and Rhee Syng Man. When I read their biographies, I realized there were many things that they did that I would not have done. Of course, many university students may not have positive feelings about these people. However, I admire them because of their great achievements in spite of their numerous sins. That is, if they didn’t exist, I would not exist. Moreover, these days, I have also come to admire Admiral Yi Sun Shin. He thought only about Joseon people and territory with a typical “In spite of” spirit although Won Gyun often slanders him. With this kind of spirit, you will succeed in anytime and in any situation.
Q) How was your university life?
A) My major was trade and I was a reporter for The Yeungnam Observer. Now, I think back on that time. I wrote about so many things. There were many exchanges with other universities and I had many useful experiences such as athletic meets and workshops. This English news magazine was also well established, so the organizational experience helped me to adjust quickly. In addition, it was very helpful with my English study. Moreover, I studied very hard in my major and graduated from college with honors. I went to the library almost every day and went home around 11 p.m. on the last school bus.
Q) What do you want to say to present day YU students?
A) In the world there are no people who cannot do what they want due to the lack of knowledge. Don’t try to know more and just implement what you know. Compete fiercely and do not agonize and hesitate. The most important things for you to remember are the words that your parents and school teachers said to you. If you feel satisfied, it means you are going backward. Finally, university life has to be lonely. My university life was very lonely. For reference, the word “lonely” means that you have to avoid private things, not public things. If you do everything that all others do, how can you develop yourself? I hope many students follow their own life path.
Nowadays, getting a job at a major company is not easy. However, I was very impressed by the vice-president of LG Electronics, Ki Wan Kim, because he became a vice-president in the shortest amount of time. While I listened to his various life stories, I did not notice how fast the time went by and I felt like I was being purified. In addition, I was very surprised because he said he was always positive and almost never hesitated. I can think and look back about the importance of the most essential things. I hope many university students keep the words of the vice-president of LG Electronics in mind and achieve their own dreams with their own philosophy.
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